You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. Can You?

I’d like to take today to talk about one of my favorite clichés-that you can’t judge a book by its cover. When you’re talking about getting to know the people around you, you’re absolutely right. When you’re talking about whether or not to pick up the book sitting on the shelf…well, that can be a different story altogether.

Not all books with dull or poorly done covers are bad books. There are a number of them populating my bookshelf whose covers don’t do justice to the stories inside. But most of these were published 15 or 20 years ago. Long before technology opened new doors for cover graphic design.

These days there are so many options for book cover designers that when I see a book with a poorly designed cover (or even worse, no cover at all, just a solid background and a title) I think, “Off the cuff self publishing.” And in all honesty, I’m not likely to pick it up. Why?

1) Because an author who takes the time and effort to create (or hire someone to create) a cover for their book takes pride in their work. That makes me think that they took that pride, contacted an editor, and turned it into a quality product.

2) A book with a cleverly designed cover catches my eye on a crowded shelf. Dull covers get shuffled to the background.

3) Covers allow your reader to visualize your characters and the events therein. Sometimes it’s a visual representation of the characters themselves; others, it’s a mood. An atmosphere. Do you want dull, uninteresting or uninspired to be the first impression your reader has of your book?

The bottom line is, your book cover sets the tone for your reader. Clever book cover=clever book in their minds. Is that always true? No. You can have a horrendous book with a fabulous cover (and many do). But you have a better chance of convincing your readers picking up your book is worth their time if you’ve proven that attracting their attention with a clever book cover is worth yours.